By Jeff Rogers President of the Water Wonderland chapter
Well it’s safe to say, the high water didn’t have the last word…
As you all likely know, our annual Boats on the Boardwalk show was cancelled at our June board meeting. In its’ place, a decision was made that night to just have a basic land display in the parking lot above the boardwalk instead. If nothing else, it would at least allow us to hold our ground, so to speak – as well as provide Traverse City with even a small glimpse of this vintage boat hobby we all love.
I’m proud to say that your chapter – and especially the astute leadership and tireless work of Bill Manny and Dennis Hansen (along with Connie and Barb, in equal measure) – went above and beyond the call of duty.
Upon arriving in TC on Saturday morning with boat in tow, it was a sight to behold: 21 boats, Ship’s Store, vendors (Hagerty, Walstrom Marine, Dennis Gerathy, and others), and the USCG Auxiliary. Equally important was an endless stream of visitors marveling at the lineup of wood and canvas, mahogany and chrome, and all things nautical.
While I’ve been a member of the WWC/ACBS for nearly 30 years – and have had ample other reasons to be proud of the work our chapter has done – Saturday’s efforts stood among the best of the best. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, this was one of our finest hours.
And as usually happens with events like this (and in life as well), some great lessons were learned.
Without question, the boardwalk along the Boardman River is one of the most unique and picturesque boat show venues in the country.
As soon as the water recedes, our vintage boats will once again be lined-up along that blocks-long strip of weathered wood – hopefully in only 12 short months, water-permitting.
The fact we had no other options for displaying boats besides a parking lot revealed an obvious, but profound reality. Having a significant fleet of boats “docked” in the parking lot provided boat show advertising the likes of which we’ve never seen in our 32 years. While we won’t need to fully fill that parking lot again if the boardwalk is usable, having boats strategically displayed along the Grandview Parkway / US-31 increased the visibility of our show exponentially – and undoubtedly brought more people in.
We’ll wait for our debriefing discussion at the next board meeting, but it’s likely safe to say that our lack of a show this year allowed us to discover a number of new strategies worth continuing into the future.
Camaraderie, momentum, and a can-do spirit
All the above notwithstanding, what was perhaps most clear last Saturday in Traverse City was the camaraderie we enjoy among our members and visitors alike – along with the sheer momentum that gathering around boats and on (or near) the water provides. Old friendships are rekindled – if only on an annual basis. Along with that, newcomers gazed at glossy varnish and gleaming chrome – with awe, wonder, and an interest in perhaps joining the fun.
Moreover, what was clearly evident last Saturday on the faces of Bill and Dennis – as well as our chapter members and volunteers – was the idea that “we did it!” What had begun as simply an assignment to have a land display – in the span of six weeks – became the best stand-in for Boats on the Boardwalk that we could ever have imagined.
So hats-off again to all who were involved last Saturday – leading, volunteering, exhibiting their boats, or simply visiting. Together, we presented our members and the residents / guests of Traverse City with another stellar showcase of vintage boating – as we have for the past 32 summers.
And while it’s trite to say, it bears repeating nonetheless. While antique and classic boats are the common denominator that brought us all together, it’s the people of the WWC/ACBS that are of the utmost importance and make all the difference.